Israel Divided Over Conviction of Hebron IDF Shooter
January 5, 2017
The last days in Israel have been very hard for me, even though I am far away. I wanted to make sure you know about what is happening and to highlight some of the hard moral questions this issue brings. My summary is below followed by some articles for you to read.
On March 24, 2016, two Palestinians carried a knife attack against soldiers in Hebron, injuring one soldier. The terrorists were shot, one died immediately, and the other was severely wounded. Just a few minutes after the attack, an Israeli soldier (Sgt. Elor Azaria) approached the wounded terrorist that was lying on the ground, and shot him in the head from point-blank range. Immediately after the incident the soldier was detained by the Israeli Military Police.
Yesterday, after a long and one of the most historical trials in Israel, Azaria was convicted of manslaughter at the Military court of Jaffa. The case has created controversies and various comments by Israeli society and its leadership, and I am sad to say that the unity which usually characterizes Israel society is not there since the trial. Israelis’ opinions are divided, some call Azaria "The son of us all" and won’t accept the verdict, while some say the act has been an extrajudicial execution and the court has proved its pursuit of true justice.
The soldiers who serve in IDF are in charge of the life-saving task, of protecting the Israeli people from terror. You can never tell when an innocent looking Palestinian will draw a knife, a gun or an explosive device on you and your comrades. The situation is tense, often volatile. The young soldiers truly are the sons and daughters of us all. They did not choose to enlist to the military at the age of 18, but were required to do so by the state law; required by the Israeli-Arab conflict that has been spilling so much blood for so many years.
That being said, the IDF top values are “Human Dignity” and “Purity of Arms”. And in that case there is no doubt that the IDF has proven to be an Army of law and order. A soldier must not take a life, unless he is under an immediate threat. The military has rules for these kinds of (unfortunately everyday) situations, rules that must be enforced.
The implications of this case and the verdict of the trial will affect IDF and the Israeli people for years to come. Should soldiers be afraid to eliminate a terrorist when in the danger? Absolutely not. But we should never be trigger-happy. The IDF is indeed the most moral army in the world, and here we are proving it again, and again, paying a price for that.
In these radical, so complicated situations, which are sometimes squeezed into a fraction of a second, we must take all of the variables into account.
An important thing to mention here is that in spite of the conviction- the international media is still mistreating, biased against Israel, with many news sources failing to name the Palestinian a terrorist, nor as an attacker, they are omitting any mention whatsoever of the fact that just moments before the incident he had gone on a stabbing spree.